E-L-R - VEXIER
OBSCURE SWISS DOOMGAZE
The cover art of Vexier depicts a woman’s feet as she is walking through leaves in what looks like autumn. Barefoot and tentative, with robing draped loosely, it is intentionally ambiguous as to whether she is under duress or moving freely. That inscrutability of time and place is at the core of this album’s tenor mystique and otherworldly atmosphere. Incorporating elements of post-metal’s sweeping panoramas, the harshness of blackgaze and even traces of trippy doom, E-L-R’s sound is – a mostly instrumental – doom fusion that goes big on atmospherics.
E-L-R do not scrimp in their recondite wanderings and opener Opiate the Sun is over 12 minutes of slow-drive, undulating cerebral ambient rock that combines doomy druidism and hefty post-metal and it’s one of the stand-out tracks on here. It becomes apparent, though, that much of the songcraft on display relies heavily on nodding donkey repetition of chords and insistent rhythms to create a trance-inducing ambience that is part bucolic dark ages mysticism and part transportive psychedelia. The chiming, concussive Fleurs of Decay is a slow, hypnotic march, where pounding cymbals along with dogged, propulsive drums and enveloping strumming chords create a hazy be-forested mistiness. The shimmering drone is augmented by shamanic female chants that are lower in the mix and integrated with the instrumentation to accentuate E-L-R’s doomy hallucinogenic edge. In the likes of the oddly titled Seeds this is deployed to reach clamorous, epic, quasi-spiritual rises.
Here and there, E-L-R demonstrate they can rev it up a bit with the likes of the windswept blackened passages on the Sage-esque drama of Three Winds. In other places it is the quieter, delicate episodes that have some of the biggest transcendental impact and hold the most coiled up drama. The closer Forêt is a convincing plaintive finale which showcases some variety with sultry spoken word and drowsy fade outs.
Vexier has a largely unsettling gothic aesthetic with a vibe of chewing on some hallucinogenic tree bark in a pagan ritual. It is a little over the top, too naturalist to be opulent, too stately to be stoner doom. At times it wobbles on the tightropes between an adventurous stylistic amalgamation and crawling drone distraction. E-L-R do have a nifty niche though and they splice styles effortlessly where other contrive.
Vexier is released via Prophecy Productions